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Free Study Guide-Hiroshima by John Hersey-Free Online Book Notes Summary
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CHAPTER FIVE: The Aftermath

Summary (continued)

By the early 1960s, however, it was apparent to his family that his happy-go-lucky spirit had turned to melancholy. His relationship with his wife was strained, over a new American- style house he insisted on building, among other things. Over New Years eve, Dr. Fujii slept alone for the first time in his new house, and the next morning his family discovered him unconscious, poisoned by a gas leak from a stove. He seemed to recover in the first month in the hospital, but at the end of January he suddenly worsened and remained in a vegetative state for the rest of his life. When he died ten years later, his widow forbade an autopsy, but one of his sons snuck his body out to have one done. It showed a large, cancerous tumor in the liver, an enlarged large intestine, and an atrophied brain. His family fought over his property, and his widow sued one of her sons over the dispute.

One year after the bomb, Rev. Tanimoto preached the Christian message to people who would gather at the nightly black market. But since he had no congregation to bring them into, he refocused his efforts into restoring his old church building. He sought old military materials and worked with other parishioners on the carpentry work. He still lacked sufficient funds, however, so embarked on a speaking tour in the United States to raise support.

On this trip, Rev. Tanimoto devised the idea of making Hiroshima a center for studying peace, and began submitting his proposal to magazines and influential people in the U.S. - all without the knowledge or consent of anyone else in Hiroshima. Meanwhile, Rev. Tanimoto was unaware that in Hiroshima, the government had designated the city as a Peace Memorial City and unveiled a park to commemorate it. His chief U.S. promoter was Norman Cousins, an editor who enthusiastically backed Rev. Tanimoto’s idea at first, but then pushed it aside in favor of his own peace idea of a one-world government. Yet Cousins continued to arrange Rev. Tanimoto’s fundraising tours, now for a whole host of causes. The climax of Rev. Tanimoto’s U.S. travels was when he was invited to give the opening prayer for a session of the U.S. Senate. When Rev. Tanimoto finally discussed his ideas with Hiroshima’s mayor and the prefectural governor, they rejected them. The community also resented the old green Cadillac he drove, donated by an American friend.

Back in Japan, one of Rev. Tanimoto’s major projects was teaching Bible studies and finding vocational opportunities for the city’s young women with horrible keloid scars on their faces. He lobbied for plastic surgery for them, and finally was able to arrange for a few to be done in Tokyo. Later, he accompanied twenty-five girls to the U.S. for surgery by doctors who were donating their services.

Once in the U.S., Rev. Tanimoto was featured on the television show, "This is Your Life," thinking it was a standard interview. The totally unprepared Rev. Tanimoto was confronted by various people from his past, and most shocking, Captain Robert Lewis, copilot of the Enola Gay which dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima. Meanwhile, the U.S. State Department grew suspicious of Rev. Tanimoto’s attention- grabbing activities.

After several years of working for peace, Rev. Tanimoto found himself out of the main stream of Hiroshima peace activities, overly controlled by Norman Cousins, and rejected by many of the people he had tried to help. Yet he maintained a compassionate heart, adopting an abandoned baby with his wife. His daughter Koko, meanwhile, suffered exploitation by atomic bomb researchers and was rejected by her finace’s family because she was a hibakusha. In Tokyo she chose to hide her hibakusha status and eventually married a man in which she was able to confide her experience. As Rev. Tanimoto reached the age of seventy, he slowed down in his activities and fell into a mundane lifestyle, even as he aged and his memory became imperfect.

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